Challenges to Education in Egypt

Although significant progress has been made to increase human capital base through improved education system, still the quality of education experience is low and unequally distributed. Due to lack of good quality education at the basic and secondary levels, there has been a mushrooming market for private tutoring. Now to take private tuition has become more of an obligation than a remedial activity. According to the Egypt Human Development Report (2005), 58 percent of surveyed families stated that their children take private tutoring. The CAPMAS (2004) survey showed that households spend on average around 61 percent of total education expenditure on private tutoring. In addition, per household expenditure of the richest quintile on private tutoring is more than seven times that of the poorest. Among the issues is the lack of sufficient education in public schools and the need for private tuition. As of 2005, 61-70% of Egyptian students attend private tuition. Other common issues include: theft of public educational funds and leakage of exams.

Egypt also has a shortage of skilled and semi-skilled workforce.But there has been an abundance of low-skilled laborers. Even if there are any high-skilled workers available, their quality of training is quite poor. This is mostly a problem in small-medium companies and large public industries that work in "protected" domestic markets. The average gross production per worker is lower than other North African countries: Morocco and Tunisia. Youth unemployment is also very high, primarily due to lack of education system in providing necessary training under TVET programs.

Most importantly, Egyptian education faces a main challenge because of the quality of teachers that teach in public schools. An ethnography study conducted by Sarah Hartmann in 2008 concluded that most teachers in Egypt resort to teaching for lack of better options and because the nature of the job does not conflict with their more important gender role as mothers. The low salaries offered by the public schooling system in Egypt attracts low-skilled employees. A study conducted in 1989 documenting the bureaucracy of the Egyptian Ministry of Education concluded that teachers' annual salary in Egypt is, on average, $360. A later study conducted in 2011 showed that teachers earn an average annual salary of $460 which is less than half the country's average annual per-capita income. Following the low quality of teachers in Egypt, they lack basic psychological background that would allow them to deal with students. Corporal punishment is a common practice in Egyptian schools even though it has not been deeply discussed in literature. A recent example was brought to media's attention in 2011 when a pre-K teacher was caught on video consistently beating his students harshly The teacher was sent to court but the parents and students protested for questioning him expressing that this is what they believe to be the best way to deal with their youngsters.

A study conducted by UNESCO on educational equity in world's 16 most populous countries placed Egypt in the middle range in terms of equity of primary and secondary enrollments across governorates in Egypt. But when the wealth component is added to education attainment, the results are not very encouraging. There are significantly higher enrollment rates in wealthier regions at both the primary and secondary levels. This confirms that more efforts are needed to reduce the wealth gap in educational attainment